Ladies and gentlemen of the press we are always happy to welcome you here at historic Independence Hall, the home of our True Blue PUP.
As you can all see we have a new look here in our auditorium and I wish to publicly thank Roque and Patricia Escalante for their time and effort and all the other donors who contributed to the work to renovate this room. Patricia told me she wanted to do this for our Party and she saw it through every step of the way and from all of us in the PUP, thank you, Patricia.
Today, as you can see, our standard bearers have all assembled to discuss Party matters.
We are of course very happy with five consecutive weeks of PUP victories in villages all across Belize. In every district the PUP has made significant gains and we want to start today by congratulating the more than 1000 true blue candidates who have proudly represented our Party in our pledge to Serve the People. We also wish to thank the thousands of Belizeans who are coming out to vote BLUE. Last year I said that we were ready to lead and ready to win. We will continue in this spirit all the way through to the general elections because we need to rid our country of the rank corruption, hypocrisy and incompetence that has become the hallmark of this UDP Government.
Members of the press there is no nice way to put this and I take no pleasure in saying it, but at present our beloved Belize is plagued by a moral and financial crisis. Our country is wallowing in a morass of social decay and deterioration. Our Prime Minister and members of his cabinet as well as other political appointees are named by the United States Federal Trade Commission of not only being aware of but possibly being involved in the biggest fraud and money laundering scheme in the history of the FTC.
Never before has any Government of Belize been so disgraced. Never before has the integrity of so many cabinet ministers been called into question. Never before has our Central Bank been brought into such disrepute. This shocking, sensational Sanctuary Bay Saga shows a Prime Minister and his collective of closely connected UDP associates and cronies accused of behavior that if not criminal is at best unworthy of the high offices they hold. Dean Barrow has brought shame on our nation and his actions and inactions have has placed in jeopardy the entire banking and financial services of this nation. Choice Bank collapsed. Atlantic International crashed as a result of this Sanctuary Bay corruption saga. A third bank is indicating that it no longer desires doing business in Belize today. This means that hundreds of millions of dollars can be lost and hundreds of Belizean families hurt as jobs are lost and the financial services industry continues to collapse.
To no one’s surprise the Prime Minister has shown no concern for these matters. He hastily called a press conference to try and rescue his tarnished image – unsuccessfully. Our nation is on a downward spiral and all our Prime Minister is concerned about is his reputation. What about the reputation of our country? It can’t get any worse than this, the US State Department in its report earlier this year to the US Congress described our country as, and I quote, “a major money laundering jurisdiction.” Where is the denial? Where is the disclaimer? Where is his threat to sue?
The information contained in the recently publicized 50-page US court document highlights some of the corruption that continues to tarnish this UDP Government. The Sanctuary Bay scandal is a fact. Over US100 million dollars were swindled, that is a fact. The swindlers used Atlantic International Bank – that is a fact. They sold over 1400 parcels of Belizean land at hundreds of thousands of dollars each – that is a fact. UDP senator Aldo Salazar, appointed by the Prime Minister is named as representing Sanctuary Bay and Atlantic International Bank Limited– that is a fact. The names of Deputy Prime Minister Patrick Faber, Tourism Minister Heredia and other well connected UDP’s are in the court document — that is a fact. The people of Belize do not believe you Mr. Barrow, you sought to clear only yourself of wrongdoing. No one believes your words or trust your deeds anymore and that too is a fact.
From 2016 then Central Bank Governor Glen Ysaguirre put in writing to the director of the FIU, Joy Grant that and I quote: “there was strong evidence of massive fraud and money laundering occurring through this project.” End of quote. The court document pointed out, “Yet neither the Central Bank nor any other Belizean authority did anything about the Massive fraud which continued unabated.” Those are double facts.
How could the Prime Minister of Belize not know that the Central Bank was alerting the FIU of massive fraud and money laundering that was occurring at Sanctuary Bay?
How could the Prime Minister fail to adequately address the serious allegations against his own law firm Barrow and Williams as contained in the court document?
In this the biggest scandal in FTC history, a scandal that has brought shame and disgrace to our country, Prime Minister Barrow cannot expect that his press conference is the be all and end all of this matter. Belizeans demand accountability. Wrongdoing cannot be ignored. There must be resignations. The Prime Minister stated that he would take one for his team, is that the corrupt team Prime Minister? You and your cronies must now take one for Team Belize. For God’s sake leave.